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New Special Education Funding Formula Wins Approval

December 26, 2013- Don Rooney
HARRISBURG- A report on special education funding in Pennsylvania recommends changes in the way that funding is distributed. The idea is to make sure the money gets to the students who need it most.

Sen. Judy Schwank says she is pleased with The Special Education Funding Reform Commission’s recommendation to change Pennsylvania’s formula for financing special education. The report says if the state changes the way it calculates its special education payments, it will make the system more accurate, easier to use, and better distribute limited public dollars to students who need it most.

Since 1991, the Commonwealth has distributed its special education funding based on a census formula -- that is, taking the total population of a school district and assuming that 15 percent of all students have mild disabilities and 1 percent of them are severely disabled. The new formula recommended by the commission factors the low, moderate, or high needs of individual students who will receive the funding. It also considers community differences: poverty, property tax levels, and rural and small district conditions. Children who are considered for special education services live with impairments like hearing or vision loss, traumatic brain injuries, learning disabilities, autism, or emotional disturbance. Some 270,000 children with disabilities are educated in Pennsylvania’s special education system.

That’s one of every 6.5 students.

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